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Mercedes given faith for 2024 F1 leap by Aston Martin, McLaren progress

The massive jumps that Aston Martin and McLaren made with their Formula 1 cars in 2023 have left Mercedes adamant it can close the gap to Red Bull this winter.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Mercedes has endured a challenging campaign, the progress it had hoped to make with its W14 failing to materialise as it embarked on a 'painful' change in car concept.

The team recognised it had aimed to run its aero platform too high, giving away too much performance compared to rivals running much closer to the ground.

Mercedes believes that a fundamental overhaul of its approach for 2024 will finally allow Lewis Hamilton and George Russell to fight pace-setter Red Bull on equal terms, although the scale of the task looks immense with Red Bull's RB19 winning every race in 2023 so far.

Red Bull is also likely to have made an early start on developing its RB20, since its comfortable advantage throughout the current campaign meant a run of major developments hasn't been required.

F1's history book shows that dominant teams can maintain their edge until the next regulation changes bring about a shake-up in the order – as happened with the 2021 floor changes that hurt Mercedes and helped Red Bull.

But despite the rules staying static into 2024, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff thinks that a dramatic change in fortunes can happen once squads get on top of what's needed.

He sees the examples of Aston Martin's significant jump over the winter and McLaren's pace transformation over the course of the 2023 campaign as proof of what is possible and reason to believe Mercedes can indeed challenge Red Bull.

"I think where we are, we just need a step that McLaren and Aston Martin have achieved in one go," he said when asked by Autosport if it was realistic to expect the gap to the front to be gone by 2024.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

"It is not making a two tenths update, but a five tenths update and then you're back in the game. So yeah, I think it's possible."

Mercedes has a better grip now on the car concepts that are needed to be successful in the new ground effect era, and Wolff said there were many changes being made to the W15 design.

However, he admitted that Mercedes did not have all the answers needed and was still exploring a lot of avenues to work out the best development path.

"I think we have a few directions," he explained.

"If we would know it would be much easier, but the car is just very unpredictable and lacks grip. So, there are plenty of things that you need to tackle.

"We tend to believe in F1 that there's a silver bullet that's going to unlock everything.

"I think we just need to put components together to make them work together in the car. There's not one topic that I would call out."

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